A spectacular, three-part landmark documentary series
showcasing the natural history of the world’s
largest and most important watershed
TVO Original Great Lakes Untamed
Directed By Jeff Morales, Nicholas de Pencier, Ted Oakes
Cinematography By Hugo Kitching, Nicholas de Pencier, Jeff Morales
Dr. Ted Oakes, FRCGS, is available for interviews
Full Broadcast Schedule for Great Lakes Untamed:
Episode 1: Source to Sea – Mon Sep 26 at 9pm ET (repeats at midnight)
Episode 2: The Big Freeze – Tues Sep 27 at 9pm ET (repeats at midnight)
Episode 3: Marvels and Mysteries – Tues Sep 27 at 10pm ET (repeats at 1am)
Repeat of Series back-to-back – Sat Oct 1 at 8pm ET (repeats at 1am)
Repeat of Episode 3 – Marvels and Mysteries – Sun Oct 2 at 10pm ET (repeats at 3am).
Carved by the retreat of a two-million-year-old glacier, North America’s five great lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – form the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth, holding one quarter of the world’s ‘surface fresh water’. This watershed is unmatched for its incredible wildlife, landscapes and human importance. It is our ‘Amazon’.
TVO Original Great Lakes Untamed takes us on a journey through this constantly evolving world that shapes the lives of millions of animals, plants and humans. As wide as the Atlantic Ocean this giant watershed is now revealing new mysteries; rocks that glow-in-the-dark on Superior’s shore; Canada’s longest underwater cave system beneath the Ottawa River; and fish that feed in the sky and those that sing. Here, life has adapted to an extreme climate on land and underwater in order to survive. You will see never-before-filmed footage of freshwater cod singing beneath the ice to find a mate, flying squirrels that glow in the dark, beautiful salamanders that use plants to breathe, and the last wolverines in eastern North America.
“This series will astound viewers with its jaw-dropping imagery and deeply researched revelations about the Great Lakes,” says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO. “Great Lakes Untamed comes at a crucial moment in time, when we have the tools and knowledge to safeguard the future of these lakes and the vast diversity of life that depends on them.”
Led by veteran BBC nature documentarian, Ted Oakes (Planet Earth Live), and his co-directors, Jeff Morales and Nicholas de Pencier (Anthropocene, Manufactured Landscapes), Great Lakes Untamed is an international collaboration between broadcasters from five countries. Filmed by a team of North America’s foremost nature cinematographers working over two years, Great Lakes Untamed is the first definitive natural history ever produced on this vast watershed.
In Episode 1, Source to Sea starts at headwaters of Lake Superior and takes us on a 3,000 km tour of the Great Lakes all the way to our planet’s largest estuary, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to 14 species of whales. Along the way, you will discover the amazing relationship between beavers and wolves that regulate the flow of clean water into the Great Lakes. The flow of water is a trip not everyone has survived. Clear water reveals newly discovered shipwrecks beneath the Straits of Mackinac which connect Lakes Michigan and Huron. Here extreme storms and unpredictable currents make this one of the most dangerous waterways in the world. For the first time you will see loons and even owls hunting fish underwater. The greatest lakes on Earth are threatened by a voracious invader, the giant Silver Carp.
With Episode 2, The Big Freeze reveals how animals, people and the landscape have been forged by snow and ice in one of the world’s most extreme and unpredictable environments. Here the changing climate is creating one of our planet’s most powerful ‘polar vortexes’, life-threatening blasts of super-chilled air, ‘ice tsunamis’ and storms that create the world’s largest freshwater waves. You will see ravens demonstrate remarkable intelligence manipulating wolves and bald eagles to feed on deer trapped in ice. A Canada Lynx hunts in ‘Lake effect’ snow drifts for snowshoe hares and ruffed grouse buried in icy caves. A river otter teaches her pups how to find fish under the ice. And two human free-divers explore the bizarre extraterrestrial world beneath Lake Huron.
The final Episode 3, Marvels and Mysteries, shows us how life and the landscape of the Great Lakes have adapted to the incredible changes in temperature that arrive each year. You will see monstrous lake sturgeon swimming upstream to spawn, moose diving 20 feet deep to feed on plants, the world’s first images of inland wolves hunting fish. The series also show scientists using lights to foil invasive lamprey eels that have nearly destroyed millions of native fish.
TVO Original Great Lakes Untamed shines a spotlight on the greatest lakes on Earth. These five Great Lakes are our best hope for a future where there is still clean water to drink and pristine natural worlds to discover. The survival of all the creatures in this watershed depends upon the health of the water that nourishes them. The actions we take now to protect this region and its wildlife will ensure that these magnificent lakes and their amazing ecosystems endure for another ten thousand years.
“As a small boy growing up in Ottawa in the 1970s,” notes producer/co-director/biologist Ted Oakes, “I was lucky to meet one of Canada’s most influential naturalists and filmmakers, Bill Mason. He directed the Academy Award-nominated Paddle to the Sea. Years later working as a Junior Ranger and biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, and as a filmmaker for the BBC, I never forgot the love of nature that film expressed. In 2014, I came across the toy canoe featured in Mason’s remarkable film. It brought back a flood of memories and inspired me to make Great Lakes Untamed.”
TVO Original Great Lakes Untamed is an Ontario/Manitoba co-production produced by Oak Island Films Canada, and Merit Motion Pictures, in association with TVO, Smithsonian Channel, Terra Mater Studios, and Two Wise Monkeys Entertainment, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Productions Services Tax Credit, the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, and Rogers Documentary Fund.
ABOUT MERIT MOTION PICTURES
Merit Motion Pictures is one of Canada’s leading producers of documentary programming. Founded by executive producer and industry veteran Merit Jensen Carr, MMP films are known for producing award-winning natural history and science films for broadcasters worldwide. Recent highlights include the Kingdom of the Polar Bears (National Geographic Channels, Disney +, CBC, France 3 and Terra Mater); and Reef Rescue (CBC, ARTE, Vulcan, NOVA) and Turtle Beach (BBC, CBC, ARTE, Blue Ant). MMP is currently in production on the feature film Everest Dark for CBC documentary Channel, and Cub Camp, a 1hr natural history series for Love Nature and Blue Ant Studios.
ABOUT OAK ISLAND FILMS LTD.
Ted Oakes of Oak Island Films Ltd. has spent twenty years in the world-famous BBC Natural History Unitas an award-winning filmmaker and Exec producer of natural history programmes for the BBC including Life: Mammals, Amazon Abyss, seven series of Gordon Buchanan’s Animal Family & Me one of which was the acclaimed Snow Wolf Family & Me set on Ellesmere Island. He has a doctorate in Zoology from Oxford University and an MSc in Biology from Queens University.
ABOUT TWO WISE MONKEYS
Two Wise Monkeys Entertainment, led by managing director Phil Fairclough, specializes in producing shows about nature, science and factual entertainment with the goal of changing the way people think and act for the better. Most recently, Phil took superstar Cher to Pakistan to make the award-winning show, Cher and The Loneliest Elephant, and he is Executive Producer on Merit Motion Pictures and CAPA/Films A Cinq series, Kingdom Of The Polar Bears (CBC, National Geographic, France Television, Terra Mater), and three-part doc series Great Lakes Untamed (TVO, Smithsonian). He is renowned as the Executive Producer of the acclaimed documentary Grizzly Man and the Oscar nominated Encounters at The End Of The World. Before running Two Wise Monkeys, Phil worked at the highest levels of production for the BBC, Discovery Channel and ITV.
ABOUT TVO MEDIA EDUCATION GROUP
TVO Media Education Group inspires learning that changes lives and enriches communities. Founded in 1970, we are a globally recognized digital learning organization that engages Ontarians of all ages with inclusive experiences and diverse perspectives. Through video, audio, games, courses, newsletters and articles, we’re investing in the transformative potential of education for everyone. Funded primarily by the Province of Ontario, TVO is a registered charity supported by thousands of sponsors and donors. For more information, visit TVO.me, TVO.org and TVOkids.com.
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